House and Senate Complete FY 2018 Appropriations Package
After a long and difficult appropriations process—one that saw two brief federal government shutdowns—the House and Senate have passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriation for FY 2018. While it was expected to be quickly signed by the President, the President just shared on Twitter that he is considering vetoing the bill. We still anticipate the bill to be signed later today however, but follow us on social media for any additional updates. In the omnibus, I am pleased to share that GEAR UP will be funded at $350 million, an increase of $10 million over last year.
In addition, the bill directs the U.S. Department of Education to host a competition this year, and requires the Department to uphold the one-state, one-grant policy that has long governed the State grant side of the program. New State grants in 2018 will only be made to states whose current grants are scheduled to expire this fiscal year, or to states that do not currently have a State grant. Additional language may be forthcoming from the Senate, so we’ll keep you posted on any new developments in next week’s GEAR UP digest.
Overall, the FY 2018 funding for education represents a stark rebuke to the proposed cuts and priorities of the Trump administration. We are deeply appreciative that the House and Senate resoundingly rejected the administration’s proposal to cut $120 million from the GEAR UP program.
With the FY 2018 appropriation now at $350 million, our community has ensured that the upcoming competition will be the largest in the programs’ history. This also represents the third straight appropriations increase for GEAR UP, something we have not achieved since 2005. And of course, the $350 million funding level represents a new, all-time high in GEAR UP funding.
While I share these findings to illustrate how impactful your collective action and advocacy has been, I do hope you will take some time to reflect on how our small actions—something as simple as calling and emailing Congress—can make a profound difference in people’s lives. As a result of your work, the $10 million increase will bring an additional 20,000 new students into the program. Imagine every seat at Madison Square Garden filled with new GEAR UP middle school students ready to seize the opportunities you’ve helped create for them. Thanks to you, our march to a million took a very meaningful step forward.
As you already know, the administration has proposed eliminating the GEAR UP program entirely in 2019. While I hope you will take some time to celebrate with your colleagues and partners who worked so hard to make the FY 2018 increase possible, I hope you will do so with an eye on what is to come. We will be counting on each of you to help us not only defend GEAR UP, but to again increase funding – this time to $375 million.